Arionna Darling of the Whetstone High School girls track and field team experienced a range of emotions on June 8.
The senior was disappointed with her performance in the Division I state meet at Ohio State, as she failed to reach the final in the shot put and had to settle for 13th with a throw of 38 feet, 2 1/4 inches.
Later that day, she had an open house to celebrate her graduation.
"It was an exciting day in my life," said Darling, who was the Braves' lone state competitor. "I wish I (had done) better at state. I just didn't have it. I don't know if I'm going to compete in college. Right now, I think I'm going to go to (the University of) Cincinnati unless something else happens soon. If I do, I might try to walk-on (to the Bearcats' track team). If not, I'll just concentrate on my academics."
Darling, who was seeded ninth at state, was the first state qualifier for the girls team since Kyra Berry in 2001. She placed fourth (40-2) in the regional meet May 29 and 31 at Pickerington North after a throwing a program-record 40-4 1/4 to finish second in the 16-team district 3 meet that concluded May 25 at Hilliard Darby.
Darling also competed at regional in the discus, finishing 10th (103-11) after placing third at district (112-1). She had set a program record of 123-1 in winning the event in the City League meet May 13 and 15 at home.
"She was pretty down and disappointed with her performance," coach Kofi Owusu-Ansah said. "Her goal for two years was to get here and she worked extremely hard and did that. Her goal this week was to make the finals, so she's pretty bummed.
"But when there's a little distance in time, maybe two weeks, she'll look back on it and realize she's 13th in the entire state. She's leaving here as our school's record-holder in the shot put and discus. She had an excellent season and an excellent career."
Also competing at regional for the Braves was sophomore Bianca McLemore, who placed eighth in the long jump (16-3 3/4) and 12th in the 400 meters (1 minute, 1.78 seconds) as the Braves scored five points to tie for 28th behind co-champions Gahanna (55) and Pickerington Central (55) as 39 teams scored.
The top four finishers in each regional event advanced to state.
At district, Darling placed third in the discus (112-1) and McLemore placed second in the long jump (16-4 1/2) and fourth in the 400 (personal-record 59.83), as Whetstone finished 10th (29) behind champion Dublin Coffman (141).
Also scoring at district was sophomore Liz Khoury, who finished seventh in the 1,600 (5:32.95).
The top four finishers in each district event advanced to regional.
Whetstone placed third (81) in the City meet behind Eastmoor Academy (111) and Northland (104) and ahead of Columbus International (56), Africentric (48), Walnut Ridge (34), Brookhaven (31), Centennial (30), Beechcroft (29), Independence (23), Columbus South (21), Marion-Franklin (16), Columbus West (8), Linden-McKinley (7), Columbus East (6), Briggs (4) and Mifflin (3).
In addition to winning the City title in the discus, Darling won the shot put (37-9 1/2). Khoury placed second in the 800 (2:34.22), third in the 1,600 (5:48.19) and anchored the winning 3,200 relay (10:45.78).
Freshman Cassandra Chen-oweth placed third in the 3,200 (13:37.87) and McLemore finished fourth in the long jump (15-1/2) and sixth in the 400 (1:00.57).
Whetstone loses two seniors in Darling and Micayla Wade, who also specialized in the throws.
Among the key athletes expected to return are Cheno-weth, Khoury, McLemore, junior Kelli Chin and sophomores Helen Davis, Caitlyn Haughley and Julianna Hawsman.
"The majority of our team were freshmen and sophomores and we have some strong distance runners in Khoury and Hawsman," Owusu-Ansah said. "But we need some sprinters around McLemore and we definitely need to find some people to fill the voids in throws. If we can get that done, we'll be fine. But the goal is to go from being competitive in the City to being competitive in the district."
Boys team ended season at regional
The boys track team did not have any state qualifiers and had only one regional qualifier in junior David Simmons, who finished 13th in the long jump (20-3 3/4) after placing second (21-3 1/4) in the 16-team district 3 meet.
Whetstone did not score at regional as Pickerington North (99) won and 39 teams scored. The Braves scored 11 points at district to finish 15th behind champion Granville (117).
Also scoring at district was the 400 relay of senior Da'mon Rosemond, freshman Damarius Bradley, Simmons and junior Darius Bester (sixth, 44.87).
Whetstone scored 41 points in the City meet to place fifth, behind Eastmoor (132), Independence (130.5), Brookhaven (43) and Centennial (43) and ahead of Linden (41), Northland (40.5), Walnut Ridge (36), Mifflin (35), Marion-Franklin (17), South (15), East (14), Briggs (12), Beechcroft (9), Africentric (5) and Columbus International (1).
Placing second in the City meet were junior Hayden Palmer in the 1,600 (4:50.60), senior Kellen Kincaid in the 800 (2:02.75) and Simmons in the long jump (20-8).
Whetstone loses four seniors, including Kincaid and Rosemond.
Among the key athletes expected back are Bester, Bradley, Palmer, Simmons, junior Yussuf Ibrow, sophomores Ike Boatneg, Idiris Ibraham and Alec Waitkus and freshman Clayton Peacock.